Photo: Flickr, CC
Poaching Probably to Blame
Last year we learned that India's tiger population had dropped about 3,600 individuals in 2003 to around 1,400. This was enough to make the Indian government promise that 8 new Tiger reserves covering 11,900 square miles would be created. But how effective are these "Tiger Parks"? The BBC is reporting that Panna National Park, one of the main tiger reserves, no longer has any tigers. How did that happen?
Photo: Wikipedia, CC
Sadly, that it doesn't seem to be entirely clear what's happening, which is going to make it a lot harder to prevent it from happening elsewhere. "Officials from the wildlife department say there is no 'explicable' reason for the falling number of tigers."
Well, not so inexplicable when you consider that poaching can be very lucrative, despite some high-tech attempts to prevent it. If park officials haven't noticed anything, it's probably just because the poachers are good. The BBC writes:
MK Ranjitsingh, a member of National Wildlife Advisory Board, says the authorities must crack down on the poachers by preventing their activities in the parks, and stopping the export of tiger products.
And they must, he adds, lobby for international pressure on the nations of the Far East, which are the main buyers of such goods.
There have been reports that there is a huge demand for tiger bones, claws and skin in countries like China, Taiwan and Korea.
But was the park badly managed? Were they not keeping track of the tigers and counting them regularly (I know, easier said than done...)? Shouldn't an alarm bell have sounded when the number of tigers started to go down, and not only when there were none left? I hope the other tiger reserves are better at keeping track of their protégés.
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